June 25, 2019 02:00 AM NPT
It’s over two weeks since the windstorm that struck at a speed of 95 kilometers per hour and lasted nearly two hours killed two persons and left over a hundred injured in various districts of Far-west. Kailali witnessed greater losses and injuries. By now, life should have returned to normalcy in this district of Sudur Paschim Province but, as things stand, many victims whose homes were damaged by the storm are living in makeshift shelters while some others are living in their damaged houses all because the relief efforts mobilized by the government and other social organizations have been inadequate. Some victims are yet to receive such aid. District Administration Office (DAO) distributed corrugated sheets to victims but many complain that they have not received any. They are living under the hay roofs. If corrugated sheets had been distributed fairly and to all the victims, they would not have to suffer this fate. Now that monsoon has started, the victims are even more worried. Some organizations have helped rebuild around 40 houses for the victims in Dhangadhi but with total number of damaged houses being over 1,000, this is going to be too little help.
It is not fair that our response to the victims of natural calamities has to be unequal depending on geography and death tolls. Often our state authorities are taken by alarm when the death toll is high and damages alarming. People in Kailali have lost their houses, clothes, food stock and other belongings. Thus it is going to be very difficult for them to survive. What is particularly concerning about Kailali is that the authorities are yet to collect data and ascertain the number of victims and losses. This has also led to relief distribution process becoming painfully slow. The government of Sudur Paschim province has announced Rs 20,000 relief for victims whose homes were fully damaged and Rs 10,000 for those whose houses were partially damaged. But in lack of clear data of the victims, the provincial government has not been able to provide the promised aid. Dhangadhi Sub Metropolitan City announced to provide relief of Rs 6,000 for fully damaged and Rs 3,000 for partially damaged houses. Godavari Municipality has decided to give Rs 6,000 for fully damaged and Rs 2,500 for partially damaged homes. But again, with the lack of proper data, the relief amount has not reached any victim yet.
This speaks of how the government authorities—from the central to local levels—fail to take prompt action to alleviate the concerns of the victims during the most difficult times. Nepali people, social organizations, youths and even government agencies show exemplary solidarity in providing relief aids and assistance to the victims of natural calamities. But in lack of proper coordination, some victims are left behind and they have to wait for basic relief materials for months on end. This has happened with the victims of storm in Kailali. This story of neglect that often surfaces in post-disaster relief and assistance in Nepal must change. Victims of Kailali should not be left to feel that they have been neglected because they live far away from the capital.